Choked by a patient. How do you deal with this trauma? - page 6

by 222mom222 9,027 Views | 59 Comments

I was all alone in this hallway around 4am, charting on a computer- when out of the blue, somebody tried to choke me from behind. As I tried to twist free from him while screaming my lungs out, I saw that it was a patient. ... Read More


  1. 3
    You always have the right to defend yourself. Root Cause Analysis needs to be conducted just like any "event." Staffing, layout of the unit, how often patients are checked, cameras, Security rounding. Some systems have a panic button on the ID badge. I think it was inappropriate for you to continue working. If you were told to continue, that may be actionable. As soon as you were attacked, you suffered an OJI. It is your decision to inform the police - the hospital doesn't want to be on the evening news, which is why they want to minimize the event and handle it in-house. Take care.
    cheri1859, Here.I.Stand, and 222mom222 like this.
  2. 2
    222mom222 -

    I am so sorry this happened to you. It is admirable that you are thinking of trying to improve conditions at your work place, but please, care for yourself first. I have never been attacked, but my mother was a victim of violent crime, and my sisters and I all suffered PTSD because of it. Once you have gotten the help and support you need (counseling in particular, hopefully paid for by work), then you can start to look at the problems in your workplace.

    I am thinking of you and I will pray for you. I will also pray that your husband will realize how serious this is and try to be more supportive.

    How are you doing?
    Here.I.Stand and 222mom222 like this.
  3. 10
    Hi, everyone. It's Day 38 since I was attacked by a patient. I've had 3 panic episodes since. The first one I told you about (not very smart to come back to work 4 days after being choked from behind). I went full on crazy: chest pain, difficulty breathing, sweating, puking, dizziness, crying hysterically. After that, HR gave me time off, paid, without touching my PTO hours.

    It was a wake up call: I had been in denial. I wanted to be strong, unaffected, unchanged by this stupid isolated incident. I wanted to continue taking care of people in need. But it had marked me and totally changed my attitude towards male patients, confused patients and towards work in general.

    There are times when I just want to turn in my two weeks notice. I sometimes think- "Screw this, it's not worth it! I'm sick of blood, vomit, pee, and poop. I've had it with being grabbed, scratched, spit at, bitten and thrown pitchers at! I'm done with this alphabet soup, giant Petri dish of a workplace with MRSA, CDiff, VRE, ESBL! Goodbye hospital! Goodbye nursing!"...It took my mind into a really dark place.

    The next two panic attacks were triggered by being alone in a hallway at work. But I'd seen a counselor by then (I still see her), so I was ready. I ran to the break room which was my "safe place". Did breathing exercises. Prayed. Then went back out there to finish my darned shift and fight the terror.

    I've completed six 12 hour night shifts now. Some nights were good, some were inner torture.

    I developed a mantra: to help myself, help others. It helped me get through the palpitations, the cold sweats, the queasy dizziness I felt when I was about to have contact with a confused patient.

    When I felt like resigning, I thought of my son. My husband is a non compliant sleep apneic, hypertensive, smoker in a high stress job who doesn't listen to the health tips of his wife who just happens to be a registered nurse in a step down unit. I NEED to keep doing this for my son.

    In a month, I will be switched to day shift. Management hooked me up with trauma specialists, trauma support groups, etc. The CEO wrote me a letter. My Director has been incredibly supportive, calling me at home to check on me. The staff members made a Welcome Back poster when my leave was over.

    I wrote a long email to my boss about all the things we at AN talked about here, the issues that have come to light at work because of this and what the heck are we going to do about it.

    They said Risk Management, HR, and other departments are linking up to come up with measures to protect and educate staff regarding workplace violence. We'll see...

    I thank you all for your support, prayers and advice. We'll keep doing this, doing the good work, fighting the good fight. Nurses ROCK!!!
    cheri1859, CountessB, LTCNS, and 7 others like this.
  4. 1
    Quote from 222mom222
    Hi, everyone. It's Day 38 since I was attacked by a patient. I've had 3 panic episodes since. The first one I told you about (not very smart to come back to work 4 days after being choked from behind). I went full on crazy: chest pain, difficulty breathing, sweating, puking, dizziness, crying hysterically. After that, HR gave me time off, paid, without touching my PTO hours.

    It was a wake up call: I had been in denial. I wanted to be strong, unaffected, unchanged by this stupid isolated incident. I wanted to continue taking care of people in need. But it had marked me and totally changed my attitude towards male patients, confused patients and towards work in general.

    There are times when I just want to turn in my two weeks notice. I sometimes think- "Screw this, it's not worth it! I'm sick of blood, vomit, pee, and poop. I've had it with being grabbed, scratched, spit at, bitten and thrown pitchers at! I'm done with this alphabet soup, giant Petri dish of a workplace with MRSA, CDiff, VRE, ESBL! Goodbye hospital! Goodbye nursing!"...It took my mind into a really dark place.

    The next two panic attacks were triggered by being alone in a hallway at work. But I'd seen a counselor by then (I still see her), so I was ready. I ran to the break room which was my "safe place". Did breathing exercises. Prayed. Then went back out there to finish my darned shift and fight the terror.

    I've completed six 12 hour night shifts now. Some nights were good, some were inner torture.

    I developed a mantra: to help myself, help others. It helped me get through the palpitations, the cold sweats, the queasy dizziness I felt when I was about to have contact with a confused patient.

    When I felt like resigning, I thought of my son. My husband is a non compliant sleep apneic, hypertensive, smoker in a high stress job who doesn't listen to the health tips of his wife who just happens to be a registered nurse in a step down unit. I NEED to keep doing this for my son.

    In a month, I will be switched to day shift. Management hooked me up with trauma specialists, trauma support groups, etc. The CEO wrote me a letter. My Director has been incredibly supportive, calling me at home to check on me. The staff members made a Welcome Back poster when my leave was over.

    I wrote a long email to my boss about all the things we at AN talked about here, the issues that have come to light at work because of this and what the heck are we going to do about it.

    They said Risk Management, HR, and other departments are linking up to come up with measures to protect and educate staff regarding workplace violence. We'll see...

    I thank you all for your support, prayers and advice. We'll keep doing this, doing the good work, fighting the good fight. Nurses ROCK!!!
    So so glad to hear this, and I pray that you continue to find peace!
    Esme12 likes this.
  5. 4
    charge him with assault.


    around here we are verbally and sometimes physically abused. manager said we can't fight back....i told her if someone hits me of kicks or chokes me then I am doing what ever to save my life/lessen my chances of injury. I have a very good lawyer as well so I'm not worried about idle threats of termination.

    we also dont have security as the squatters in the offices don't think its necessary in the ER.
    Here.I.Stand, Esme12, lumbarpain, and 1 other like this.
  6. 2
    I am so sorry this happened to you. I am glad to hear you are doing better. I have just very recently been pondering this type situation and the effects it has on not only the individual staff in an incident but the staff surrounding that person.Things are so bad in our facility this is a daily issue I think about. I find it surreal the way employees have been conditioned to "accept" this violence against us as "no big deal" perfectly normal to be abused and just keep right on going "like nothing happened". Except it did. It most certainly did and it has caused a ripple effect.
    I have personally been physically attacked so many times I truly cannot even count them all anymore. The verbal abuse is daily. And no I do not work in a psych unit nor a prison. I SUPPOSEDLY work in a physical rehab unit!
    It is weighing very heavy on me. I am sure I do not get paid near enough to be a punching bag. I sure didn't sign up to be a boxer a wrestler or any job that you are PAID to get beat on. The jobs for LPN's are pretty limited here and I actually feel trapped. Because of all the school loans to get my LPN I cannot afford to go back to the old job I used to do. I guess that is where they get us.
    Esme12 and lumbarpain like this.
  7. 1
    I've been attacked by/injured by patients before, but its always been when they are in the bed/chair and so I have had the upperhand. Being unexpectedly choked from behind would scare the crap out of me, I can't imagine the anxiety you are feeling. I'm not sure what to say other than if your employer has some type of EAP or you can talk to someone about it, it would probably benefit you to do so because that is a very traumatic situation.
    Esme12 likes this.
  8. 1
    In my opinion....Your Safety as a nurse comes first...if you cant work or are injured by another patient who creeps up behind you then you wont be of any use to the rest of your patients.......OF course you don't want to hurt this patient who is choking you, but if you are turning blue, you need to defend yourself......what good are you if you don't.......you would try to stop the action in its tracks..but you were taken by surprise. Was this patient a patient on your floor? On psych meds. Is this a psych floor, Severe Dementia???? Did any one (other staff) come to your aid? you seem vague . You don't want to hurt a person who doesn't realize what the heck they are doing...but the TRIGGER of why this happened is KEY here...what set this patient off? I have been punched, stabbed with a knife, kicked, etc....but never choked.......Nurses wil become extinct if this keeps up.
    Esme12 likes this.
  9. 3
    another thing about this job.....we become so conditioned and desensitized to trauma and emergency situations and TV glorifies all this to the point of numbness, that something very severe is taken out of context and made into a baby sleeping in a crib scenario...like its nothing!!!!!! An Assault and Battery for no apparent reason is SERIOUS....especially when the one person is responsible for the care of many others.....
    LadyFree28, Christy1019, and Esme12 like this.
  10. 1
    ((((((222mom222)))))) Thank you for the update! So glad you're taking care of yourself and getting some support now.
    Esme12 likes this.


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